Windhand – Soma


Pic Tony Lynch

    Soma is undoubtedly not for the faint hearted; not that the new album from Windhand is vicious or openly destructive, but with a scintillating oppressive craft and an impossibly heavy intensity the six track, seventy plus minute leviathan of doom clad sludge pervasion is one of the most exhausting demanding presences heard this year. As extensively consuming as it is expansively involving, the debut release with Relapse Records from the Richmond, Virginia quintet is sheer downtuned, rock gaited drama and despite its merciless lumbering ravishing of the senses is as captivating and magnetic as it is thrilling suffocating.

To declare Soma epic is almost whimsical, the mountainous riff rugged terrain going beyond that description to thrust the senses and imagination into an unventilated stuffy swamp of corrosively persuasive intensive sonic fog. The five piece of vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, guitarists Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris, bassist Parker Chandler, and drummer Ryan Wolfe pregnate the senses immediately with an antagonistic slowly pervading riff from the first second of opener Orchard. The lone intrusion is soon joined by further grizzled guitar and barbed rhythms guided by the same intent, the forestry of sonic scenery and immersive atmosphere soon a tight restrictive smog around the ear and thoughts. The almost mystical haunting tones of Cottrell offers light, an escape from the intense ambience though it is a deceptive lure leading the listener into a maze of acidic melodies and guitar enterprise. Evocative and controlling the track is a magnetic call on the passions, a seemingly instinctive response in return embracing its fearsome muscular offering.

The following Woodbine soon engages a melodic and harmonic mist within its persuasive occultist like overwhelming breath, a GD30OB2-N.cdrpsychedelic glow shimmering off of the tar thick energy infiltrating every pore and thought.  Like its predecessor the song seems to go on and on in height and depth, the Sabbath inspired riff tanked absorption of the imagination an ever widening pull through an air sucking, senses flooding tide of fuzz lined malevolence. Its successor Feral Bones is much the same but with an even more predacious labouring rabidity which chews and swallows thoughts and emotions into its terrifying dark underbelly of again drone driven animosity, though once more the vocals of Cottrell offer a line of comfort even if soaked in sinister intrigue.

From distinctly different songs but ones with a mutual surface intent and feel, Evergreen steps forward next to provide ‘an eye of the storm’ moment. Predominantly acoustic guitar walking alongside wonderful vocals and harmonies in a tender ambience, the song is a folk autumn breeze but one which is no stranger to the shadows and darkened air which skirt its beauty from first to last evocative note and syllable.

Cassock soon preys on the calm with a terrific sonically snarling temptation evolving into a leg staggering thunderstorm of electrified sonic scythes and mountainous cascading beats prowled from within by sinew heavy, riveting ferocious riffs. Like being chewed alive by a tsunami of ravenous intensive jaws whilst fallen angels serenade the wounds, the track is a magnetic triumph which impales the passions upon its rhythmic shards and sonic spires.

The closing Boleskine is a thirty minute colossal journey all on its own within the album. An acoustic start deceptively draws in the senses and mind before once fully engaged they succumb to a blood chilling doom soundscape of severe and stressful provocation entwined with seducing melodic mastery and the ever lingering almost ghostly vocal presence of Cottrell. Ever evolving with drone spawned intensity and folk sparked elegance repeating their persuasions amidst ever changing and senses suffering imagination, the track is a long winding fall through aural purgatory and thoroughly absorbing and thrilling, if debatably over long by the time it leaves its Siberian like winter on the ear.

Soma is simply an outstanding confrontation which needs and offers numerous excursions through its edacious depths to explore all of its startling textures and depths. Windhand has created a suffering which may in time go down as an important doom metal release; certainly in the now it will feature on the end of year passions of so many.


RingMaster 16/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Avenue Army – Words With Action


Emotively charged and potently crafted, Words With Action the debut album from US alternative rock band Avenue Army has a confidence and smile upon its evocative lips which only makes the engagement of the sixteen track release stronger. Promise oozes from every song and idea on offer and though the album maybe lacks the originality to thrust it right to the fore of bands emerging within alt and modern melodic metal at the moment, it’s makes a compelling argument in the case of the band becoming a loud inspiring voice in the future.

Hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Avenue Army came together in 2009 after James Paulet and Max Eric Bergstrom moved in together and discovered a strong musical chemistry between them. Already knowing each other through mutual friends and having jammed a few times together previously the pair combined fully at this point to work on songs Bergstrom had awaiting, tracks which did not work out for his previous projects. With inspirations from the likes of The Beatles, Nirvana, Weezer, Modest Mouse, and The Cure amongst many, the pair crafted a strong collection of tracks before enlisting more band members to complete the line-up. Strong live performances built the band a fine local reputation and following, and with the current line-up of drummer Sean Pierce and bassist Maurice Vasquez alongside vocalist/guitarist Bergstrom and guitarist Paulet the band has forged an even more impressive stature which the album can only enhance.

Produced by Steve Murray and Matt Bombich, Words with Action has a title and personal breath which reflects and represents the coverdetermination needed and shown by the band in the face of ‘overcoming personal vice struggles’. It certainly adds a depth and passion to tracks, and often a snarl to their radio friendly sound with more than a strong whisper of pop punk at times, which leaves a rich temptation at work, even if arguably it is often never fully realised and taken to its fullest potency. The album opens with The Upside and instantly puts out a welcome melodic hand and appealing energy  to draw in full attention whilst nudging awake an appetite for their easily accessible and pleasing presence. Good group harmonies lay with ease on the restrained but keen encounter, riffs and rhythms vibrant if undemanding, and sonic invention bright if like the hooks of the song not quite as anthemic as they might wish.

It is a very decent start though soon matched by Emily and taken to another height with Get Out Of Summer. The first enters the ear with a swagger within crisp beats before settling into creating an enjoyable glaze of melodic enterprise and passionate vocals speared by again pop hooks that get the job done whilst the second sets down the first pinnacle of the album. A funk infested rhythmic tease and bass lure opens things up before the guitars conjure up a contagious temptation of accomplished wanting to please hooks. Not for the only time on the album, the song inspires a strong and appealing feeling of Everclear to its well-crafted and skilful body which leaves the now brewing scent of hunger a little more to hanker for.

The likes of the smouldering Alright Never and the again Art Alexakis and co sounding I’m No Creep keep thoughts and emotions wholly entwined with their narratives, the first a sultry flame of reflective and melodic imagination honed into a richly riveting experience and its successor an expressive blaze of inventive traps and magnetic adventure which seduces the passions without any restraint.

Further highlights come with the bluesy Time Hates Both Of Us, the infectious Local Bar with its fiery guitar sound, and the inventive Factory, a track seemingly simple yet with a complex inventive craft and texture which leaves ear and thoughts wanting more. The finest peak on the album though comes in its closing song Pretty Microphone, a full on crowd and appetite pleaser with a virulently gripping groove and power pop barbs which leave long and lingering bewitchment in their touch. Vocally and musically everything is on a new plateau to what was already impressing previously, but here the band finally realise all the tempting tonic within their songwriting to enslave the passions.

Words with Action is a thoroughly enjoyable and as mentioned promising release which is just a spark away from being a real powerhouse of an introduction. The songs tease and suggest they are going to explode into an anthemic storm but apart from the last, they are just a step or so too short. You sense that this will emerge in the future though with this base of an album to launch from placing Avenue Army on the alternative/pop rock radar.


RingMaster 16/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Jeker’s Cardboard Condo – Self Titled

cbc front page

More than just a band name and album title, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo is an album which steps forward from within classic rock familiarity and assuming expectations to present one extremely captivating and enjoyable encounter. It is not going to rival others for best of lists come December but for honest and instinctive rock ‘n’ roll with an infectious voice and magnetic heart it stands side by side with most.

The story behind the name and release is the type of tale music and blues rock was created to soundtrack. The protagonist of the tale is Mark Jeker, a guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who decided to devote everything to his music amidst disillusion with life. The man in his bio states, “I left everything behind, my home, my family, myself respect and sometimes, my dignity.” Living in his pickup truck and playing with his cover band to raise any kind of funds, Jeker wrote and worked on his music, moving from parking lots to fields and gas stations in the truck as he continued to write and play guitar. The demise of his home/vehicle saw him travelling to NYC looking for inspiration in the streets and the people he met and money earned from street performing just about paying for his trips. As bar gigs in Jersey slowed in the summer he began sleeping on the streets and river banks with guitar and writing pad, with time also spent in subways and in line at soup kitchens. One rainy day in July 2010 he built his own cardboard shelter with refrigerator boxes, an old tarp and some duct tape. Decorated with whatever he could find and artwork from a graffiti painter friend, his home was christened Jekers Cardboard Condo. With visits from fellow shack dwellers building into Cardboard Condo parties things were as settled as the situated allowed, but of course never thankfully to be permanent. Gigs started picking up bringing some finance back into his days whilst a meeting with guitarist singer and song writer, Joe Fallon led to an invitation to records some songs. Further help and support from friends musically and in living and travelling aspects, continued an upswing in Jeker’s fortunes as did continuing shows which helped finance a place to live and recording equipment. Continually working on recording songs and creating the album through 2011 into 2012, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo was finally completed and released, the result an album with true spirit and a instinctive breath filled with easy to access rock passion.

Assisted by Fallon (guitar/bass/vocal), Mark Clese (guitar/bass/percussion), and Tony Morra (drums/percussion) across the songs making up the release, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo gets off to a very decent start with Cardboard Condo. From a fiery start the track settles into a strolling gait with flames of blues guitar and the distinct vocals of Jeker providing an openly honest narrative of the tale we tell above. It is a strong, if in hindsight underwhelming compared to what is to come, introduction which makes for a warm and energetic welcome to the artists and release.

The following Knock is another matter; it’s laid back but beckoning start doing enough to pull in stronger attention before the harmonies and melodic poise of the song rewards by taking senses and passions into the rocking heart of the encounter, its pop hooks and earthy vocals delivering the sealing persuasion for thoughts and appetite. Just hinted at on its predecessor, there is a strong whisper of Graham Parker to this track and the vocal delivery of Jeker which adds another potent dimension to things. Jagged riffs spark another rise in a hunger for the track especially as a Tom Petty essence also makes an appearance as the song rises to an infectious and lingering climax.

Mind’s Eye has a similar glaze to its presence as its predecessor, a Parker/Costelloesque lure irresistible once it wraps around the excellent bass temptation leading into the song at the start. As with all the tracks it is fair to say there is nothing staggeringly new being unveiled but equally there have not been many classic rock albums with such an endearing, uncluttered but imaginative, and convincing suasion to ignite the same level of pleasure either in recent months or so.

Deception is a song which took time to fully win over thoughts and emotions, but after numerous plays it emerged as an addictive little tease which secured strong ardour for itself, though the song always feels a little weak until it is into its stride where it just excels. Its presence is soon equalled and subsequently surpassed by the rock pop contagion of Sometimes, a song which defies you to resist joining in and have feet tapping without reticence, the again Graham Parker smelling Anyway, and the excellent That’s Life with its sizzling blues toned guitars and David Essex like touch, yep honestly.

The brief piano cascade of drama to welcome in Blue Diana, strikes up strong anticipation which is then left disappointed by the following stance of the song. The track is a pleasing and potent part ballad flame of passion and creative skill, a song which has little in flaws but after such a big trigger just does not match the hunger which was sparked, though the melancholic strings and throaty evocation to the tail of the track go some of the way. The same applies to My Reality, its eastern rhythmic invitation outstanding and a seed for lust which the weakest song on the release throws away. In saying that the track is still an easy to ride to make peace with just not one able to satisfy the thirst its entrance bred.

Closing with the impressive Angel in My Pocket and its emotional tonic, Jeker’s Cardboard Condo is a thrilling stomp of a release which does not try to be anything but honest and passionate, something it and its creator achieves with ease. Not your album of the year maybe but certainly able to become one of your favourite aural long term friends.


RingMaster 16/09/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from


FALLING RED announce video single’We Escaped A Cult’ and tour dates.

Falling Red Online Promo Shot
“Riotous slabs of hard edged sleaze that remind me of the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row but with the attitude of the Sex Pistols. One of the finest live bands I’ve seen this year.” Power Play Magazine
Within just three short years, rising rockers ‘Falling Red’ have taken their high octane fist pumping brand of Rock from the backstreet clubs to the legendary Hammersmith Apollo! Now, with further fire in their bellies, Falling Red set loose their brand new video single ‘We Escaped A Cult’, which is taken from their forthcoming album ’Empire Of The Damned’. The band release ‘We Escaped A Cult’ on Monday 14th October and head out on tour in support of the record this October.
Formed in 2007 and hailing from Carlisle, Falling Red have already acquired a stellar name for themselves for their intoxicating blend of hard rock. Just about every rock publication, from guitarist magazines through to national rock press such as Classic Rock, Rocksound and Metal Hammer, have reviewed, interviewed or supported the band. And they are rightly deserving such attention, as everything the band has achieved has been born out of sheer hard work. The rampant rocksters cut their teeth by playing just about every sweat-drenched flea pit from the highlands in Scotland to the pits of Southern England. With a glowing reputation for energetic live shows, the quartet soon chalked up invites to play both Hard Rock Hell & Hammerfest; the band grasped the opportunity with both hands and graced audiences with a series of invigorating performances. Supports slots with Skid Row’s front man Sebastian Bach followed, and Falling Red upped their game both on & offstage, with the wild man of rock being over shadowed at every turn. Due to their growing status, the band were hand-picked as main support to the meteoric rising rock crew Steel Panther. Falling Red killed it again and left the stage every night to mass applause, with thousands of new fans wanting more. Falling Red toured again in March 2013 with a Headline tour which packed out 02 Academy 2 venues.
The band have now just finished working with Matt Elliss (The Black Spiders, Scarlett Riot) on their eagerly awaited new album ‘Empire Of the Damned’ and the UK rock crew unleash their first video single ‘We Escaped A Cult’ this October. Look out for a series of headline tours in the UK & mainland Europe starting with a tour this October with fellow Brit Rockers New Device.
cult cover lrg
FALLING RED LIVE: October 5th – The Brickyard, Carlisle (FR’s album launch); 10th – Trillians, Newcastle; 11th – Star & Garter, Manchester; 12th – Melbourn Rock Club, Royston; 16th – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth; 20th – Black Heart, London.

BLEAK FALLS set loose new EP’The Grass Gets No Greener’, on 18th November‏

Bleak Falls Promo Shot


Southern riff monsters ‘Bleak Falls’ lay assault to the UK with their new EP ‘The Grass Gets No Greener’, out Monday 18th November through all digital stores.

Encouraged by the likes of Cancer Bats, Deftones and Nirvana, Bleak Falls can be placed within the bracket of Alternative Metal/Melodic Hardcore with their barbarous and aggressive sound. Yet their ability to cleverly maneuver melody and mood set them apart from bands more captured by the genre.

Born at the end of 2011, the Sussex melodic hardcore crew express a sound that pitches sincere emotion and broody atmosphere bonded with ferocious power and unbridled energy; their songs will undoubtedly sweep you along for a belter of a ride.

During the past eighteen months, the south-coast five-some have steadily made waves through the UK scene. Along the way, they’ve been highly praised by Front Magazine and have shared stages with Landscapes, The Long Haul, Isolated, Honour Is Dead, If Heroes Should Fail, and Set Your Sails. Bleak Falls also nationally released their debut EP ‘Another Rainy Day’, which acquired strong national press coverage from Big Cheese Magazine and Powerplay, as well as extensive underground support.

The quintet now press on with their brand new EP ‘The Grass Gets No Greener’. The record starts with the moody groove of ‘Forever/Always’ before shifting gears and delivering an assault of hammering beats and immersing vocals to spectacular effect. The stomping punky sway of ‘95’ is next up, and it duly bashes your eardrums, before ‘A Taste of Change’ switches lanes, displaying the quintet’s increasing diversity and growing maturity with a superb slab of heartrending alt-rock. ‘Deadlock’ picks up dealings again with a gut-wrenching piece of ball-busting low-tuned skuzzy metal, and as the closer ‘Put Me to Sleep’ comes over you, you are left in no doubt that the five-piece have the energy, tunes and rage to be one of the chosen bands to break from the shackles of the underground this year, just watch them take off…..

Bleak Falls Cover Artwork

TRACKLISTING: 1. Forever / Always; 2. ‘95; 3. A Taste Of Change; 4. Deadlock; 5. Put Me To Sleep.
BAND MEMBERS: Rudi Ridgewell (Vocals); Chris Shane (Guitar); Don Wainwright (Bass); Luke Marshall (Guitar); Ben Vaughan (Drums).
FOR FANS OF: Deftones, Cancer Bats, Terror.


TALISMAN – ‘I-Surrection’
Thirty years after they recorded their debut long player, 1984’s ‘Takin The Strain’, Bristol’s roots reggae pioneers Talisman have found enough space in their busy live schedule to record their third studio album, ‘I-Surrection’, to be released via Sugar Shack Records on 30th September.
     Having reformed in 2011, Talisman have spent the last two years honing their skills and playing live shows at every opportunity, including the support slot on The Selectors’ recent UK tour. Original core members Dehvan and Dennison have also found the time to write the six new songs that, along with their dub counterparts, form this latest twelve track set. It’s hard to escape the economic and political similarities between today and the bands early eighties heyday, so it’s no surprise that all of the songs deal with political or roots themes and resonate with the classic sound of British reggae from the golden age. The way the music sounds is no modern pastiche; Dehvan and Dennison have been playing together for 35 years and the classic roots sound comes naturally. Likewise, the social conscience they display in their song writing has always been part of the Talisman sound. They are the real deal and this is a reggae album with genuine heritage.
       When it comes to getting the right sound, the choice of producer is everything. For this release Talisman have collaborated with Rootikal Productions David Hill, a man who fully understands reggae’s rich history as well as how to get the right sound from modern recordings. Collectively they have achieved one of the best roots reggae albums since its seventies heyday.
       From the opening lines of “Greetings and Salutations”, it’s clear that you are in for a treat as the timeless sound of roots reggae bursts forth from the speakers and envelops the listener. Conscious lyrics underpinned by great music, is a winning combination. With its call to arms, “Stand up and help yourself, stop hoping for things to change, stand up and help yourself”, “Help Yourself” is a call to arms in the anthemic tradition. Talisman haven’t given up the fight, they’ve just been regrouping and with this album they return to the struggle with a full frontal attack.  “Hey Yout” is dedicated to the next generation, those who need to take up the struggle, reminding them that previous generations have trodden the same path, but with patience and a positive attitude they can overcome “Babylon Pressure” and achieve a better future for their world. “Season For Freeman” propelled along by the addition of some great playing from Matic Horns could almost be a lost gem from the seventies, if its catalogue of black martyrs didn’t include the recent losses of Stephen Lawrence, Trayvon Martin and Smiley Culture. The point that whatever progress society has made some things haven’t changed is subtle but well made.  The album takes an almost Nyahbinghi direction as we “Praise Jah”, an upbeat and joyous track that’s almost hymn like and makes one want to sing along. “Things a Get Tough” has an almost sixties feel, reinforced by the repetition of the lines “rougher than rough, tougher than tough” lyrics that strongly recall the classic tunes of the rude boy era. Even if they’ve cleverly given a nod to the past the lyrics themselves are just as relevant to today where it’s more about the tough economic situation than which rude boy or singer is the toughest. Every track comes with its corresponding dub version, skilfully mixed by David Hill for Rootikal Productions and dub in the best sense, where each version stands on its own musical merits as a fully thought out track rather than being a mere afterthought. The sole exception is ‘Hey Yout’ which rather than a full dub workout gets reimagined as a classic sounding melodica version.
        This album takes the best aspects of reggae’s musical heritage and fashions them into an album that deals with the realities of 2013. Roots reggae is back and the revival starts here! ‘I-Surrection’ is released on CD, Vinyl and Digital platforms on the 30th September 2013.
Talisman I-Surrection Cover Artwork

TALISMAN LIVE: October: 4th – The Cellar, Oxford; 11th – Barrelhouse, Totnes, Devon; 13th – Thekla, Bristol; 18th – Reading Rooms, Dundee; 19th – Citrus Club, Edinburgh. November: 9th – Sin City, Swansea; 10th – Bogiez, Cardiff.


LIFELINES unveil first EP ‘In presents wake’, on 18th November‏

Lifelines Online Promo Shot
Glaswegian metal outfit ‘Lifelines’ are rapidly etching a prominent name for themselves. Dishing up ear shattering shows that clearly mark their intention and convey their manifesto, the rising quintet are poised to hurl themselves into the national arena, ready to annihilate every sweat-pit venue along the way.
Spawned in the back streets of Glasgow, Scotland, Lifelines were formed in 2011 when old band mates Paul Bone (Vocals) and Sean Young (Guitar) recruited Jonny Macintyre (Drums). The trio soon started to write and rewrite as they began to flesh out the bones for their very first record and set list. However, the early days of Lifelines posed its challenges; the band went through six guitarists in their first year, could only afford to rehearse in Jonny’s front room, had no microphones for vocals and had only a make shift drum kit without any cymbals! But through sheer dedication and gutsy drive, the three piece pressed on, and by happenstance, they stumbled into Adam Cosgrove (Guitar) while frequenting a bar in the city; the four instantly clicked and Cosgrove joined the ranks. It wasn’t too long then before they drafted in Murray Paton (Bass) to finally complete the unit.
By the end of 2012, the aspiring five piece began to truly solidify, picking up solid underground acclaim, and scoring a feature in Front Magazine’s New & Unsigned section. The band continued their climb by hitting the road, playing throughout Scotland and supporting good friends ‘Bleed From Within’ and ‘Palm Reader’ along the way. Lifeline’s shows are now fast becoming notorious for their intensity and full-hearted delivery. The Metal crew will tour again this Autumn in support of their debut record ‘In Presents Wake’.
The band’s debut EP ‘In Presents Wake’ is stuffed to the gills with blistering riffs and pounding beats. Lifelines have pulled down their live energy to tape and the EP perfectly captures the band as they are best heard: live and in your face. From the unbridled ballsy vigor of ‘Subcitizen’ through to the vicious drive of ‘The Protagonist’ and the ferociously rifftastic ‘Silver Screen Synthetic’, ‘In Presents Wake’ is a record that showcases Lifelines as a sure-to-be prominent force in the UK metal scene.
Lifelines Cover Artwork
TRACKLISTING: 1. Subcitzen; 2. Limitless; 3. The Protagonist; 4. Better Left Unsaid; 5. Undertow; 6. Silver Screen Synthetic.
BAND MEMBERS: Paul Bone – Vocals; Sean Young – Guitar; Adam Cosgrove – Guitar; Murray Paton – Bass; Jonny Macintyre – Drums.
FOR FANS OF: Architects, Misery Signals, August Burns Red.